I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.
Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]
I got a new debit card with a chip recently. I did not know much about the chip and asked the bank representative if there was anything special I needed to do with the card. I was told I just should swipe my card like usual. Everything was going fine. Today, I went to swipe my card but the machine wasn’t working. I did not know what was happening. My son told me to turn my card and insert it somewhere else, and just keep it there. I was so confused but listened to his wise instructions. In doing so, my account was debited—the bill was paid.
As you read the Bible, one thing you can easily see is the humility of Jesus. He is the Son of God; however, as He roamed this earth, He did not walk around acting like He was better than anyone. He did not act like He had no time for people. He didn’t act like He was perfect even though He was the only One Who ever lived a perfect, sinless life. What an example He is for each of us!
It is easy to ignore the wisdom of others, especially those who you deem as less experienced or people who are younger. Remember that God reveals Himself to all He desires. He teaches and uses whoever He desires. You are never too old or so educated that you know it all. You always have something else to learn and God puts people in your life to help you continue to grow. Be open to others. Do not let your ears close to people. You may be missing out on a key that will unlock something great in your life simply because you considered you knew it all. You will never get to where God meant you to be if you do not walk humbly with God.
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2 [NLT]
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
In Nehemiah 10, the people are agreeing to a covenant. A covenant is something we see many times in the Bible. A covenant is also known as a partnership, an alliance. I always like to consider it as a promise which outlines a relationship’s boundaries. When we look at a covenant between God and His people, we can see that it is a spiritual agreement.
The process of entering into a covenant is interesting. It was something pagans participated in, as well as the Jewish people. First, it is important to note the pre-ceremony actions. This is a time when the different sides discussed terms. We see this happening in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham. There is also a time of representative selections. With regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, God and Abraham were the representatives. During the covenant process, there is typically an exchange of belts, weapons, or robes. Then there is the walk unto death part of the process. This is where the people walk around the sacrifice and basically say, “Do so to me as has been done to this animal if I break this covenant.” We see God doing this with Abraham in Genesis 15:17, as the smoking fire pot and flaming torch pass through. There is a pronouncement of blessings and curses, an exchange of names, and a covenant meal to share as part of the covenant sealing process. We cannot forget the seal of the covenant, where we have a sign of the covenant that will be remembered. For Noah, it was the Rainbow. For Moses, it was the Sabbath.
It is awesome to study about covenants, but it is most important for us to understand these covenants with the vantage point of the New Covenant. Remember friends, we entered into a New Covenant. Jesus is our representative (Son of Man), God’s representative (Son of God), and He was the sacrifice (Lamb of God). He took off His robe of glory to come to us, and we now have His righteousness (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus’ walk unto death was His walk from Gethsemane to the Cross. The sign of the New Covenant is a circumcised heart (Romans 2:28-29). As you share in the Lord’s Supper, and one day as you share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you are sharing the covenant meal. Today, thank God for the New Covenant, and most important, for our Representative and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
As I prepare for the “What Jesus Said: The Red Letter Series,” I have been intensely studying the words of Jesus. The first study of the series is about what Jesus says about Jesus. There are more “red letters” than I first thought; it has been an awesome time of prayer and study. In Matthew 16, we read about Jesus asking the disciples who Jesus is. After spending weeks pouring myself over what Jesus said about Jesus, I found myself spending a lot of time on this passage that shares Peter’s thoughts.
Who did Peter say Jesus was? He answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter basically says that Jesus was the One sent by God, the Deliverer, and also that Jesus was the Son of God. Wow! He got it! Jesus said he was blessed. In understanding this, Peter was considered the rock. Yet reading further, we find Peter is called “Satan” for not grasping God’s divine plan. Eventually Peter gets it. Yes, it was after he denied Jesus three times. But he gets it. One day he grasps Who this Messiah, the Son of the living God truly is, and his life totally changes.
What do you say about Jesus? Who is Jesus to you? Because this says a lot about you and about your life. It is true—you do not define Who Jesus is. Your words do not make Him any different; your words don’t change Jesus. Even so, Who you think Jesus is changes you—it can be the difference of life and death, the difference to living bread or spiritual bankruptcy. Who you think Jesus is may decide who you follow, who you worship, and for who you live. Who you think Jesus is determines how you live your life and what matters most to you. Who you think Jesus is makes the difference of peace that is beyond understand, joy that is overwhelming and overflowing. Today, write down Who Jesus is to you. Is He your everything? Is He the Son of God? Is He the Son of Man? Is He the Messiah? Is He the Living Bread? Is He the Light of the world? Is He the Christ? Is He your Redeemer? Is He Lord of the Sabbath? Who is Jesus to you? Then take a step forward, studying His Word and praying each day, and allow Him to continue to reveal Himself to you in new and awesome ways. Then add to the “Who Jesus is” list. May you spend your life getting to know Jesus—it will be a life well-spent.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 16:13-17 [NIV]
In Mark 7, we read the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man. In verse 33, it says Jesus took the man aside and put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. After this, Jesus looked up to heaven and He says, “Ephphatha” which means open. But before the word was spoken, after the touching of the tongue, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed.
Often we find ourselves overwhelmed, tired, in need of a break, etc. and we let out a sigh. Sometimes we remember something difficult or we find ourselves in a tough situation and we sigh. Sometimes we mess up and let out a sigh. Often before I head up front to preach, I sigh. I sigh and pray for my words to be His Word. I sigh and ask that all of the world, all of the day’s baggage, all of the “everything that is not of God” is booted far away.
Jesus sighed. We read of Him sighing in Mark 8:12, a deep groan because the Pharisees wanted a sign. The word used is “anastenaxas.” In Mark 7, the word used is different. The word is “stenazó” and it is a sigh expressing grief, anger, or desire. It can be intensely pleasant or anguishing. As we look at the steps of this healing, we can consider the ears and eyes—both created by God Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, stood before this sinner in need of restoration, sighed at the state of the man, looked up to heaven, the source of every good thing, where He rules and reigns, and said, “Be open.” Imagine Jesus face to face with you right now, reaching out, sighing and saying, “Be healed my child.” There is no need for brokenness, no need for separation. Allow Him to heal you. Allow Him to open your ears. Allow Him to loosen your tongue.
“And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to Him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’” – Mark 7:34